Is the biometrics of a person unique?
Reply to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed several shortcomings in the biometric system used for the creation of Aadhar identity numbers by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
The disclosure of one of the contracts to private parties indicates that the system is not completely accurate and infallible. Activists have raised questions in respect of the contract agreement between Ernst & Young and the UIDAI and the entire process of the largest biometric identification scheme. The programme launched by the UIDAI is the largest in the world and would store data of over a billion persons. The UIDAI has awarded the responsibility of setting up the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) and selecting Managed Service Provider (MSP) to Ernst & Young, a global consultancy firm.
The contract chapter on approach and methodology says that the primary claim of the whole exercise is to assign a unique ID to every individual who is enrolled in the system. However, the uniqueness of the biometrics of a person is still a postulate, albeit with very strong statistical evidence. The appendices of the contract, reveals that there is also a possibility that the biometric data of two different individuals could be identical.
Critics have raised concerns over the collection of biometrics of residents regarding which the UDIAI was contended that the enrolment system had proven to be reliable, accurate and scalable. The UIDAI biometric system is said to be processing over 100 trillion biometric person matches with a high degree of accuracy each day, capable of issuing 10 lakh Aadhaars daily. Only time will tell whether the uniqueness of the biometrics of a person, which is still an assumption, will turn out to be true.